The pandemic has changed what work looks like for many of us.
For proud Bundjalung man and contemporary Indigenous artist Brad Turner, the pandemic became an unexpected opportunity for his artistic venture to become his full-time job.
What started as a passion project changed when his job as a courtesy bus driver paused due to the pandemic.
“I was actually a courtesy bus driver for the local RSL and when COVID hit, that all stopped,” Turner said.
“And then after that, my wife and I just sat down one day and said it’s probably a sign to just go ahead with this.”
With a new focus on his artistic venture and his wife Natalie managing the website, Brad Turner Creative became a flourishing business.
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Based on the coastal border between Queensland and New South Wales, Turner said he was originally inspired by his grandfather.
“When I was younger, I used to sit down with my grandfather, and he used to paint,” he said.
“We used to sit down and just paint all the time. I was pretty young when I started, then through school, I never got right into it.”
After some time away from the canvas, it was Turner’s daughter who inspired him to pick up the paintbrush again.
“Only about 12 months ago…my daughter who has just turned 11 wanted to start knowing more about culture and our heritage,” Turner said.
“She was looking at all the symbols on Google. And she just came home one day and was like ‘we’d be able to sit down and paint that’.”
“It just went crazy from there.”
This year, Turner’s vibrant pieces have attracted several stockists, a massive online following, and a double spread feature in the magazine Inside Out.
When reflecting on his achievements, Turner’s proudest moment was having his work featured on this year’s finale of the popular TV show, The Block.
“They approached me and said ‘Would I be interested in putting some work on the Block Shop?’ And so, I had some work on there,” he said.
“Then they came back to me about a week before the finale. I had six days to create something and get them framed and sent to Melbourne and they made it there and were hanging on the walls behind the contestants.”
With each piece referencing spiritual heritage and culture, Turner’s custom paintings for the show were created with the intention to spread calm and positivity to the “stressful auction day.”
Throughout his paintings, Turner employs a distinct earthy colour palette which is heavily inspired by Country.
“I always stick to earthy tones…like yellow ochre, raw sienna, soft yellow pink,” he said.
“Where I grew up, my nan lived at Mooloomba and my other nan lived at Fingal and there are lots of earthy tones near the beach and down the rocks. And when there’s a sunset, the yellow-pink colour I use, is pretty much exactly what it’s like.
“It’s like magic.”